The Gift of Incompetence

Becoming Catholic, said one convert, is like trying to become Japanese. I wholeheartedly agree. I may know the lingo and lots of facts about the church, but after eleven years as a Catholic I often feel as foreign as the day I was received into full communion in a Michigan country parish.

I habitually confuse the Nicene and Apostles’ creeds, making me the most distracting person at the rosary and Mass. Similarly, I often mangle the response at the Gospels, saying “Glory to you, O Lord” when I mean “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” I always manage to clank the kneelers down on someone’s (usually my wife’s) foot. And what should be the most intimate moment of Mass is an occasion of fear.

I mean receiving Communion. Ever since my brief, unfortunate time as a high-school quarterback, I’ve experienced anguish at the mere thought of hand-offs. (My experience as a wide receiver was better but not applicable here.) Receiving on the tongue without kneeling involves the risk of biting the fingers of a priest. The only places where I have ever felt comfortable receiving Communion were Byzantine parishes where one tilts one’s head back baby-bird style while the priest, using his sacred spoon, drops the Body and Blood directly into the mouth. The psalmist says, “Open your mouth and I will feed you, says the Lord.” I’m with the Lord on this one.

No Catholic, the convert...

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About the Author

David Paul Deavel is associate editor of Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture and a contributing editor to Gilbert Magazine.